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Vexations by Erik Satie

This is a 45 minute live performance by an unidentified pianist of Erik Satie’s “Vexations.” The work was composed in 1893 and although no particular instrument is specified in the score it has long been assumed that it was intended for the piano. The piece consists of a short theme that is repeated sometimes by itself and other times with the chords above. The manuscript has an inscription that states “Pour se jouer 840 fois de suite ce motif, il sera bon de se préparer au préalable, et dans le plus grand silence, par des immobilités sérieuses,” which has been translated as “in order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilites.” Many artists have interpreted this as a statement of Satie’s intention that the piece requires the full 840 repetitions which can mean that a full performance can take in excess of 18 hours and when done this way often entails multiple pianists taking turns. The work, which was published in 1922 and largely ignored, regained favor among avant-garde composers such as John Cage in the late 1960s. Satie himself said nothing about the work or its intended performance and some have suggested that the written instructions indicate that he thought of it as a work for personal meditation rather than public performance.

Run time 46 min


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on 3/11/2013